I had a great conversation with a colleague of mine yesterday who was wondering how I was doing since my transition. She had a few questions about some aspects of transitioning, hrt, etc etc. One thing she was curious about was my voice. Ah, yes, my voice. I think it is safe to say that the majority of trans women have concerns or issues with their voice. I know I sure do. But I am getting more comfortable with it, such as it as, and learning to let that concern go.
Just about everything regarding transitioning is hard. Really hard. And yup, voice is no different! It takes work. A sh!t load of work. Like most things regarding transitioning, there is no easy solution, no “silver bullet” so to speak. You just have to work at it. That’s what I did. It has paid off. Is my voice perfect? Absolutely not! Could I improve? Certainly. Will I? Don’t know. Haven’t figured that one out.
My colleague was wondering what I did for my voice. As with many people, she just assumed that HRT took care of that, just as it changed so many things about me. I wish! Sadly, as we know, that ain’t the case. So what did I do? I worked at. Everyday. Worked on my pitch and resonance. Getting volume and speaking loudly as well. I did exercises and drills everyday. I was able to slowly increase the amount of time I could stay in my new range as the muscles adapted to the new normal.
It wasn’t easy at first. Oh my, quite the contrary. But I stuck to it. I used a lot of exercises developed by Kathy Perez. If you haven’t heard of her, google her. She has been working with the trans community for a really long time. Her training options vary, including personal lessons via skype. I chose initially to use her app for iPhone, called EVA. There are at least three of them, and I believe they are still $5.99 each. When I first found them I thought, what the heck, for $6, there was very little downside. So I tried them.
For me, they worked. Or at least in my opinion, they worked. They got me to a place that I was comfortable enough with my voice. But you have to do the practice. You have to do the work. After a while, I was only using the app to “set” my voice every morning, then I was good for the day. Now, my proper voice is the voice I wake up with. No thinking about it, no conscious effort. It just is what it is. And it is to the point that it takes a lot of effort to get back to my old voice. And quite frankly, it is really uncomfortable, both physically and mentally. I actually tried to go to my old voice a few weeks ago, why, I’m not sure, maybe just to remind myself how much it has changed. My old voice is a full octave plus a third below where I am now. I must admit, it quite surprised and scared me. I didn’t like it, not one little bit. So I won’t be going down that road ever again!!
I know my voice isn’t great, and I have a way to go before it is really really feminine. I mean, just watch one of my videos and you will see what I mean. But it does work, I think? I have encountered no issues. CIS women that I trust as supporters, tell me that it is fine. And many women do have lower voices while still in the feminine range. So I take a bit of comfort in that.
I know that they are making some improvements in vocal surgery, but I personally think there is still a lot of risk involved. And you still have to do a bunch of voice therapy afterwards. Either way, it is going to take time. Try as you may to find a short cut, I don’t think there is a reliable and safe one out there. At least not yet. So be prepared to put in the work. I mean I have said it a ton of times, and so many in my circle of supporters and friends all same the same thing. This is hard work. It ain’t easy. So be ready for it. You have to put in the time.
But trust me, the results are worth it. I am quite happy with where I am at with my voice. Having said that, I will take some time to continue to work on it to support getting to a bit higher register and work those muscles slowly. There are many options out there. In person therapy with a vocal therapist, online programs and apps, and yes, surgery. Either way you look at it, it is going to be work. But stick with it.
You too will have a voice from the past.